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Power Rankings Week 2: Everyone loves HypnoPop

Some things never seem to change.

122 out of 1230 games (or 10% of the regular season) are in the books and some interesting patterns are starting to emerge. 10% is a reasonable number. We are now nearing the point were we can start making some educated guesses.

The easiest one being that the Spurs continue to be a very good team.

BoxScore Geeks Power Ranking as of 11/13/13

Rk Change Team Point Margin Schedule
1 3 San Antonio Spurs 7.0 12
2 7 Minnesota Timberwolves 6.5 20
3 - Los Angeles Clippers 4.9 3
4 3 Indiana Pacers 4.7 30
5 3 Golden State Warriors 3.6 16
6 - Miami Heat 2.9 29
7 - Dallas Mavericks 2.9 15
8 5 Chicago Bulls 2.6 24
9 1 Oklahoma City Thunder 2.1 9
10 8 Toronto Raptors 2.0 10
11 3 Houston Rockets 0.7 28
12 2 Phoenix Suns 0.6 17
13 2 Atlanta Hawks 0.2 19
14 7 Portland Trail Blazers 0.2 25
15 4 Detroit Pistons -0.2 2
16 9 Boston Celtics -0.3 21
17 12 Orlando Magic -0.8 11
18 1 Washington Wizards -1.2 8
19 9 Denver Nuggets -1.4 23
20 4 New York Knicks -1.9 7
21 9 Brooklyn Nets -2.2 18
22 2 Charlotte Bobcats -2.3 13
23 7 New Orleans Pelicans -2.5 26
24 2 Los Angeles Lakers -2.5 1
25 2 Milwaukee Bucks -2.7 5
26 1 Philadelphia 76ers -2.9 27
27 1 Memphis Grizzlies -2.9 6
28 1 Sacramento Kings -3.6 14
29 12 Cleveland Cavaliers -4.2 4
30 - Utah Jazz -8.1 22

That's our Power Rankings through two weeks. Let's talk highlights:

  • For a minute there it looked like the Spurs might be in trouble last night against the Wizards. Tim Duncan was having a career low shooting night, and the margin was closing. Then Popovich put in his bench and watched them proceed to make the Wizards look like the Generals. The Spurs bench could probably get a 3 seed in the East. Duncan (and to a lesser extent Ginobli) are looking off, but Kawhi, Danny and Tiago are all playing at star levels. San Antonio fans should start clearing space in their schedule for another Finals run.
  • Our MVP frontrunner Kevin Love has his Timberwolves shooting up the charts. His return to an historically good form (.417 WP48 is ridiculous) combined with Rubio and Martin playing like stars makes the Wolves a credible threat. Health is still a real concern for this bunch but this team could win a few playoff games.
  • The Clippers remain at #3. This is who they are. CP3 is a superstar (.326 WP48). Deandre has been a revelation (.263 WP48). Blake and JJ are rounding out an excellent squad. In the preseason, I worried that Doc's defensive impact was way overstated. It looks like I was correct: they're conceding a ridiculous 106 pts per game, second-worst in the league. They need a defensive stopper.
  • Indiana isn't higher because they've faced the weakest schedule in the leaque so far. They're the best team in the East, but right now that's like first place in a fart smelling contest. Paul George has cooled off some (0.301 WP48) but is still playing like a superstar. This team is good and will feast on the carcass of the East. I need to see them play somebody before I'm willing to call them great.
  • The Warriors are still healthy and impressive, even if they've cooled off some now that the schedule is starting to punch them in the mouth. Until recently, they've faced the weakest slate of games and they lost their biggest test against the number 3 Clippers. Iggy and Curry have played at superstar levels. But Iggy's 46% three-point shooting isn't going to last. This is a good team but I suspect regression and injury will pull them back down a bit.
  • The Heat (#6) seem content to let games get away from them in silly fashions (ask the Celtics and the Sixers, and while you're at it, get me a Mojito). This squad will be like the Celtics in 2010. They have nothing to prove in the regular season. One thing to note is that apparently Eric Spoelstra has Svengali like powers over Michael Beasley and has him contributing in a positive way. The big question continues to be Oden. If he's back and effective, this team becomes a completely different beast. Miami really is in no rush.
  • The Mavericks are still lurking around at #7. But Monta seems to be back to being Monta (.060 WP48) and Dirk still looks to be in a funk (.047 WP48). Jose(.202 WP48) and the Matrix (.190 WP48) are their regular efficient selves, and Jae Crowder (.266 WP48) and Blair (.341 WP48) off the bench are producing like stars, and they've been the key. Let's also keep in mind that their projected starting center Brandan Wright is still out and he's pretty good. The Mavs will be here all season.
  • The Bulls are charging back. Derrick Rose is still our leader for Least Valuable Player (-1 WP). But he'll get better as the season goes on.  Given that and the fact that everyone else playing any minutes of note on this team has been great (including a resurgent Carlos Boozer (.287 WP48) ), Bulls fans should keep calm and wait for the Pacers to come back to them.
  • The Thunder are a nice parallel to the Bulls. Their star point guard is back as well, but has been less than stellar (-.159 WP48). He will get better. The most interesting development for them has been the play of rookie Steven Adams (.260 WP48). It will be interesting to see if he takes Kendrick Perkins (-.109 WP48) job. If that does happen, this team jumps a level. But Scotty Brooks is still coaching this team, so I remain skeptical.
  • The Raptors are one of our big risers. They had two respectable road losses (at Indy and Houston) and two blowout wins. However, this team runs some of the dumbest offense I've ever seen. Rudy and Demar are at 37% and 38% in FG% respectively. Between the two of them they have 337 points on 332 shots. It seems to be a Toronto tradition to have an excellent team sunk by one or two bad apples. When they move one or both of the two, or when they fire their atrocious coach (who may just be the worst coach in the league), this team will go to another level. I believe Masai is driving up Gay and Demar's value before making a trade. Gay and Demar for Gallo/Chandler/Miller/ Faried, who says no? (Editor Dre has a nervous breakdown in 3...2...1...)
  • The Rockets worry me. They have the horses, but seem to have a tendency to play down to the level of their competion. Being third in points allowed per game and second in 3 pointers allowed per game is killing them. Their post defense is great but it loses all effectiveness if their wing defense blows (and it really does). They need to tighten up their wing defense above anything else (they don't need a "stretch four", they need a wing stopper). A 48 FT% from D12 is also death. Daryl Morey should be calling Rick Barry to come and work with his centers (or maybe Art Rondeaou). Or he could just use the Jordan method.
  • As long as the Phoenix Suns continue to be in the top half of my rankings, I will continue to apologize.  Bledsoe, Tucker, Plumlee and Morris (.291 .152 .158 and a heady .336 WP48) are a real thing. Sixth in points allowed per game reflects real effort on their part. Hell, the Blazers beat them at home yesterday and their fans were celebrating on line like it was a thing. It actually was. This team looks legit.
  • I've said I like the Hawks before. Korver, Millsap and  Horford are a good top three. They are another team getting killed by the three; they are at third in most three pointers given up per game. Williams and Ayon should help shore that defense up.
  • Is Portland for real? The wins over San Antonio and Phoenix do support that. But San Antonio was on a back to back. I remain a bit skeptical. While Lilliard, Matthews and Batum are all excellent (.156 .280 and .186 WP48), Aldridge remains overrated (-.018 WP48). This is a team that should be calling up the Nuggets daily. Javale and Faried for Lamarcus, Who says no? (Editor Patrick: Faried seems to be a theme in all of Arturo's fantasy trades...)
  • The Pistons have come back down a bit. Drummond and Monroe are great. Josh Smith needs a shock collar to stop him from taking ill advised threes. Chauncey has predictably (due to age) seen his number collapse (.040 WP48). This still look like a work in progress.
  • The Celtics are the biggest upward movers this week. I said this season for them was a coin flip and it is. They look like a .500 team without their superstar Rajon Rondo (whose minutes are going to the efficiency challenged Avery Bradley (-.024 WP48). As I said in the preseason preview, this team has all the pieces to go either way. They could very easily pull a trade and win the Atlantic. Right now, I'm glad we have the over.
  • How the mighty have fallen: Orlando goes down 12 spots! With two losses to Boston and a loss to the Hawks, the Magic tumbled down the charts. Oladipo has been going through some rookie growing pains (-.067 WP48), partly because of the unfamiliar role of ball handler that he's been asked to play. I feel like that will change. He'll get better and so will they. Well, at least as long as Big Baby stays in street clothes.
  • The Washington Wizards went up one spot. I'd be more impressed if I hadn't just seen the Spurs b-squad make them look like the Washington Generals.
  • The Nuggets finally played Faried (.299 WP48) more. They blazed up the charts. Correlation or causation? Of course now they're looking to trade him to the Knicks. Sigh.
  • Don't be fooled, despite climbing up four spots, the New York Knicks are still a flaming car wreck. The Atlanta win was more a function of the Hawks disfuntion on perimiter defense. The Spurs game is what should be burned into your mind. I asked my twitter followers if they'd prefer the Sixers lineup or the Knicks and Philly won unanimously. Not a good sign. Their leading win producer, Iman Shumpert (.89 wins produced), is on the trading block and their best player (Tyson Chandler) is out four to six weeks. I'm expecting rotten tomatoes will be thrown at midcourt in MSG before the All Star break.
  • The Nets are, as expected, this year's team that would have been really great three years ago. The new big three was getting long in the tooth back in 2011. A team with a non zombie KG should not be allowing more than 100 pts a game. Our preseason projection of 43 is starting to look like a stretch goal for this team.
  • Charlotte is still fun to watch. Still not going anywhere.
  • The Pelican's came down to earth some. Anthony Davis is a looking like a top 5 guy. The rest of this squad is a mess. This seems to happen to all the superstar power forwards (KG and KLove are nodding sagely).
  • Jordan Hill (.478 WP48) is leading the league in per minute production and carrying the Lakers on his back. I don't know if this is sustainable and I really do think the Lakers will throw in the towel at some point soon. This roster is just terrible, particularly since Nash and Gasol apparently retired in the offseason (-.134 and -.011 WP48 -- Double Yikes!).
  • Milwaukee is not .500 anymore. They're tanking, and doing a dang good job of it.
  • I love this Sixers team and have watched more of them than any other team. They're well-coached and fun but they're also terrible at defense, allowing the most points and the most three point makes. They will be fun to watch and competitive all season (particularly if their defense progresses). The Biggest X-factor for them is whether they bring any of their injured players back.
  • Memphis has officially moved from yellow to red alert. Whatever virus Pau has, he gave to Marc Gasol as well (.070 WP48).  The end of the younger Gasol's run in Memphis could echo his brother's if this doesn't course correct soon.
  • The Kings are terrible. We should not be surprised. Isaiah Thomas is good though (.226 WP48).
  • The Cavaliers only win in the last five is a fluke double-OT win versus Philly, at home, on a back-to-back that the Sixers had to actively give away. They've lost four of their nine games by 15 points or more. They are 27th in offense and 22nd in defense; that's a very bad combo. Kyrie, Jack  and Dion Waiters have been abominable (-.041, -.020 and -.003 WP48) . They completely whiffed on a number 1 draft pick in what is looking to be a loaded draft. Bynum looks done. A Varejao injury is on queue because, well, god hates Cleveland.
  • The Jazz managed to eke out a win on a home back to back (which just happens to be the most lopsided scenario for a road team in the NBA) .This team is currently terrible. There's a thought that lack of a competent point guard is driving this and the return of Trey Burke should help. Here's hoping.

But how does the model think that plays out over 82 games?

Season Simulation as of 11/13/13

NBA Rank Playoff Seed Team Win Proj Playoff Odds Top 4 Seed
Odds
1 Seed
Odds
4 E1 Indiana Pacers 57 100% 100% 90%
6 E2 Miami Heat 48 100% 87% 6%
8 E3 Chicago Bulls 47 98% 77% 3%
10 E4 Toronto Raptors 46 98% 66% 1%
13 E5 Atlanta Hawks 42 81% 26% 0%
16 E6 Boston Celtics 41 75% 18% 0%
15 E7 Detroit Pistons 39 60% 12%  
17 E8 Orlando Magic 38 52% 6%  
18 E9 Washington Wizards 38 50% 5%  
20 E10 New York Knicks 35 24% 2%  
22 E11 Charlotte Bobcats 35 20% 1%  
26 E12 Philadelphia 76ers 35 21% 1%  
21 E13 Brooklyn Nets 33 13% 1%  
25 E14 Milwaukee Bucks 32 6% 0%  
29 E15 Cleveland Cavaliers 30 3% 0%  
1 W1 San Antonio Spurs 61 100% 99% 65%
2 W2 Minnesota Timberwolves 59 100% 97% 28%
3 W3 Los Angeles Clippers 54 100% 84% 5%
5 W4 Golden State Warriors 52 99% 59% 1%
7 W5 Dallas Mavericks 49 97% 32% 0%
9 W6 Oklahoma City Thunder 48 95% 22% 0%
11 W7 Houston Rockets 43 68% 2%  
14 W8 Portland Trail Blazers 42 64% 2%  
12 W9 Phoenix Suns 42 62% 2%  
19 W10 Denver Nuggets 36 7%    
24 W11 Los Angeles Lakers 34 4%    
23 W12 New Orleans Pelicans 33 3%    
27 W13 Memphis Grizzlies 32 2%    
28 W14 Sacramento Kings 29 0%    
30 W15 Utah Jazz 19      
             

Somehow, I don't see the Angel of Stern letting his tenure end with a Pacers/Spurs Finals that could be the lowest rated of all time. I think the rematch is still in the cards. See you at the Alamo!

Your algorithm seems way overconfident about playoff seeding and chance of getting to playoffs.
Yep. I need to add some uncertainty to early season projections. Work in progress.
Then, Asik wants out. Mchale is looking like a bad coach. Just play him. Sigh. Let me coach em. They already play smart. Threes and Layups/FTs. Find a better coach already. Ronnie Brewer, anyone?
Are the Power Rankings solely based on point differential?
Marc Gasol and ZBo are averaging 15 rebounds per game, combined. That's 4 less per game than last year. The team is 23rd in total rebounding. That and being 17th in turnovers (How is it only that bad?) seem like the biggest problems to me. They should be correctable but I'm definitely worried.
so far the Spur's best four players are Leonard, Splitter, Green and Belinelli. They are playing really well, If Belinelli can keep up this pace (I'm not sure about that) they have a VERY good and YOUNG team for years to come
A combination Spurs and Futurama reference? Arturo, you're a man after my own heart.
Don't worry Dre, I've got a counter to Arturo's offer:

http://www1.realgm.com/tradechecker/saved_trade/6354399
Re: Houston, what in your evaluation couldn't have been said at the beginning of the season? (when you ranked them #1). It seems like you guys spend a lot of energy shooting down the importance those kinds of Xs-and-Os arguments, except when you're making them.

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